02 December 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
Hitting the ball short, requires a calculation, but don’t worry, I’m not going to be talking about maths, physics and geometry, at least not directly. The harder you hit the ball, the less time your opponent has to reach it, but also it runs the risk of coming too far back. The softer you hit the ball, the further forward to ball stays, but it also takes longer to get there, giving you opponent more time. Couple that with the fact that for club players the harder you hit it, the less control you have too.
The calculation becomes: How hard can I hit the ball so that I rush my opponent without the ball bouncing up and making an easy return for my opponent? If I can make the ball hit the side wall, that will also slow it down but keep it low. I can’t imagine the algorithm a squash playing robot would need to perform shot selection. Whatever it is, if we can translate it into understandable words, we might have a great teaching manual.
The thumbnail of this article shows the position both players are in at the moment of the shot. Simon is able to hit the ball more or less where he wants to. He chooses to hit a low, straight “kill”, that rushes Fares, which even if he got it, wouldn’t put him in a commanding position. As it turns out, Fares makes a half-hearted attempt to move towards the ball but stops , considers asking for a let, but ultimately concedes the point.
Fares had just come from a jumping forehand smash and his momentum was going back to the T. For many club players, changing direction is much harder than the pros make it look. The key is to hit it hard enough that the flight of the ball is a straight line, but not so hard it bounces past the service line. It’s the lack of time to respond and tightness to the side wall that make this shot effective.
No, it won’t always be a winner, but it’s a “worker”. It moves your opponent low and forces them to reach and lunge. As long as you cover all four corners, you should be in control of this part of the rally.
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I didn’t mention this is the video, but this type of shot is often played on the volley and seems normal. it’s the bounce version that fewer people play. feel free to practice this shot own your own by feeding a higher shot and hitting this hard and low, followed by another feed. Your objective is to make the feed really hard to play.
A simple shot, played well and played at the right time is more effective than a fancy shot, play badly and played at the wrong time. yes, that’s sounds so obvious when typed and read, but during the heat of battle, we often try to do silly things. Rarely do they work. as the saying goes: KISS: Keep It Simple Simon! (no, that’s not the proper phrase, but for this article it’s better!)
OneShot is a series of short articles and videos↗ where I look at one shot from a game found on PSA Squash TV’s Free Game Friday and briefly explain why it’s so good. Don’t expect spectacular crosscourt nicks or through the legs drops though. I talk about shots that create opportunities, take away your opponent’s advantage and help you see squash in a new way.